Showing posts with label San Francisco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Francisco. Show all posts

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Horrors of Fishing With Dynamite

SAN FRANCISCO — Jessica Vyvyan-Robinson was diving off Borneo when she was struck without warning by shock waves.
“I could feel it in my chest — like a dull, booming sound,” she recalled in an interview. After surfacing, her group learned that fishermen had detonated explosives.
The incident, which occurred a year ago, was Ms. Vyvyan-Robinson’s first encounter with blast fishing, a highly destructive technique used in impoverished pockets of the world.
The blasts, often from dynamite, leave craters in coral reefs and kill far more fish than can be harvested, and in many places, the tourism industry serves as a powerful voice against blast fishing, which could scare divers and other visitors away. Some nations have successfully clamped down on the practice, which is generally illegal, but it continues in areas where explosives are available and people are desperate.
The effects of blast fishing can be horrifying. Ms. Vyvyan-Robinson, who wrote about her experiences for ScubaDiverLife.com, describes finding waters littered with dead or struggling fish. Only a portion of the fish that are killed is retrieved because many sink to the bottom. Their air bladders,which help fish remain buoyant, and other internal organs can rupture.
Blast fishing is not new. It was introduced to many parts of the world by European armies, said Michel Bariche, an expert on Mediterranean marine issues at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.
“During the First World War, soldiers used grenades to catch fish for a quick and fresh meal,” he said in an email. In Lebanon, for example, blast fishing spread after French soldiers demonstrated the technique.
The nation continues to struggle to contain the practice although it is illegal, Dr. Bariche said. Culprits often seek out areas where fish congregate, and then throw a homemade bomb among them, he said.
The explosions are generally easy to spot — and thus, in theory, easy to police — but Dr. Bariche said that over the past decade or two, some fishermen had taken to dropping explosives deeper and at night, when detection is less likely.
Some Lebanese anglers use lights at night to attract small fish before detonating the charge. As the small fish sink, he explained, they attract bigger fish, which can then be caught with the hook-and-line method. One problem with this practice is that shrimp, crab and lobster larvae are also drawn to the light and killed.
Tanzania has seen a resurgence in blast fishing over the last decade as mining and construction activity in the country have made it easier to obtain dynamite.
“It looks like an old World War II movie where they throw depth charges in the water,” said Marcel Kroese, who works on the SmartFish Program, an effort financed by the European Union to improve Africa’s fisheries.
Fishermen often resort to dynamite around coral reefs, where nets might snag, Mr. Kroese said. The Tanzanian coast also has relatively few fish, so anglers are desperate to harvest anything they can.
A pilot acoustic study over six weeks last year in Tanzania for the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental group, estimated that 19 blasts per day occurred in one small stretch of water not far from Dar es Salaam, the largest city. More blast-detection microphones will be deployed soon, according to Jason Rubens, a W.W.F. Tanzania representative.
The Tanzanian government and tourism officials would like to combat the problem, Mr. Kroese said, but have lacked the resources. The destruction of small fish and coral reefs receives far less attention than another environmental problem: the poaching of elephants and other wildlife. But this spring the Tanzanian government plans to begin a $1 million initiative to reduce dynamite fishing, according to The Tanzania Daily News.
Kenya, concerned about terrorist attacks, has cracked down on the availability of explosives, and has essentially eliminated dynamite fishing, Mr. Kroese said.
Experts say that blast fishing remains common in parts of Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and the Philippines, while other countries in the region have made progress in stamping it out.
In Cambodia, blast fishing has “pretty much been stopped around the major islands” and now can be found only in outlying areas, said Paul Ferber, who runs an environmental group called Marine Conservation Cambodia.
He describes the aftermath of blast fishing as “fish flapping around in severe shock.” Pressure from the growing tourism industry had led to a government crackdown.
Cambodia encouraged fishing communities to manage their own waters, and those communities patrol and spread information about why the practice is harmful and why fishermen should prevent others from doing it.
The idea was: “If you let these guys do it, it’s you guys that are going to suffer,” Mr. Ferber said.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Living without a car

I live in San Francisco with my husband, a 6 month old baby, and a cat in a one bedroom apartment near the beach. We have no car but don't need one since the public transportation system in this city takes us where we NEED to go (not always where we WANT to go.)




When we need groceries, we walk about 1/2 mile to Safeway or a just few blocks to a small organic co-op market. We have a shopping cart with wheels and a telescoping handle (similar to a wheeled suicase but it's open on top and constructed of mesh instead of thick material) and we take this with us when we need to get heavier things. I walked to the store with this cart through my entire pregnancy and now I put the baby in a carrier or sling and walk, pulling the cart behind me full of groceries. The walk takes about 20 minutes, it's a scenic path along Highway 1 near the ocean, and it's good exercise!



In addition to walking wherever we can, we frequently ride buses and streetcars with our baby. We even took the streetcar to the hospital when I went into labor! Not only is riding transit less stressful than highway traffic, you really get more exposure to different types of people in your community (some admittedly not so savory, but it's a good dose of reality nevertheless.)





I grew up in a spacious house in Texas and drove everywhere since the age of 15, but living carless now isn't as hard as I thought it would be. It saves gas money, insurance, prevents unnecessary shopping excursions to mega strip malls, curbs carbon emissions, etc... In some areas of the world it's much easier to be green, and San Francisco is one of those places. No heating bill, no air conditioning bill, no car bills.



Living in a small apartment (less than 600sf) also has surprising benefits, including avoiding unnecessary stuff that adds clutter. Efficiency, simplicity, diligent cleanliness, frugality...these things I've had to learn just to maintain sanity and a budget on one salary, but they've given me more peace in my life than I expected in return.

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